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Friday, March 30, 2012

Observations - 4th Edition

Time for another round of observations.   After all, the longer I'm here, the more I'm apt to experience differences between what I'm used to back in my homeland and here in Ecuador.  Observations.  MY observations, MY experiences.   I'm not bitching, I'm not ranting that they should change their ways to match what I'm used to, I'm not bashing, I'm not even whining.   These are just things that pop into my head as a 'hmmm...well, whaddaya know....that's interesting'.    And, who knows, maybe others who are reading this and considering a move to EC may find it enlightening.  Those reading this that already live here may think 'hey, me too!!'.

Here we go!!
  • Out on the highways, I'm baffled a lot at the speed limits.  They just don't seem to make sense, and virtually no one pays attention to them, probably for that reason.   I can be on a highway that, yes has its twist and turns, but the average person is travelling 80 kpm (50 mph)...but the signs say 50 or 60 kph (30 - 35 mph).  If we all drove at that speed, we'd fall asleep.    There are long stretches of straight highway on the way to Riobamba where it is normal to drive 100 - 120 kph (60 - 70 mph) but the signs say 60 kph (35 mph)!!!!  I've seen many in-town arterials posted at 30 kph (18 mph).  C'MON!!!
  • It is very rare to see the equivilant of highway patrol cars on the highway system.  Few and far in-between.   Likewise, it will be a blue moon if you ever encounter a speed trap or patrol car sitting somewhere ready to pounce on you for a traffic infraction.  It's almost impossible to engage in a car-chase because the police have the same vehicles as the public.  They don't have 'muscle cars'.
  • I have yet to observe anyone pulled over for such things as a blown-out tailight and/or headlight (everyone in EC would be getting a ticket), speeding, running a stop sign/light, using a cellphone, or not wearing a seatbelt.  Heck....it's normal to see a family of 4 riding on a motorcycle, child in front of father who's driving, baby schmooshed between wife and him, then the wife on the back...all without helmets!!!
  • It is very common to see pigs, cows, horses, and sheep munching the grass along the shoulders of the highways.   Owners simply have a rope around their neck....uhhhhh...the animals neck...then stake the rope into the ground.
  • No matter where you are in the hills or countryside, you will run into a church that anchors the center of even the teeniest, tinyest village.
  • Dogs roam free EVERYwhere here.   I would guestimate 7 out of every 10 dogs I see have titties-a-swayin in the wind.  Reminds me of those gizmos on office desks...you know those steel balls hanging on strings?  You pull one back and let it go and the whole row of balls starts knocking back and forth?  Well, envision two parallel rows on a female dog who's just given birth.
  • Don't even try to return anything in a store.  What is ultra-common back in 'the homeland' is generally not accepted here.  It's a big deal.  Stores do NOT want to take things back and they will try their damndest to tell you 'no'.   It's one of the reasons they drag everything out of the box and, in front of you, demonstrate everything works.   This includes light bulbs and small appliances....plug it in, push the button...WHIRRRR!!!...yep, it works.    Yesterday, I purchased a $7 shampoo dispenser for my shower.  They took it out of the box, looked it over for cracks, etc and pushed the squirt button and showed me yes, indeedy, the button when in and out.  Then they showed me the little packet of screws lest I return the item claiming the screws were not included.  Then, I signed off.
  • Car warranties are voided when the vehicle is sold to someone else...regardless if the time/mileage is still within the manufacturers stated period.
  • When you buy plants in stores or nurseries, they don't have those little plastic stakes that tell you whether they are a sun/shade plant or if they should be in a dry or wet soil.   No info at all.
  • Using your debit card for a purchase?   No such thing as cash-back.
  • Traffic signals are quirky here.   I've encountered many intersections where there is a Stop sign AND a traffic light.   Hmmm....so if the light is green and there's a stop sign, too....what are you supposed to do?  Or, if the light is red and there's a stop sign, too....can you proceed through the red light (while the opposite traffic has a green light) as long as you stopped first?   Confusing.   Today was a new one for me.  I was looking at a traffic light that had both green and red illuminated.  HUH??
  • Here, clerks in stores, attendants at parking kiosks, and order-takers at fast-food counters are almost always naturally friendly, not forced-friendly.  They don't need a script to say hello or goodbye or rattle off  'thank you for shopping at Easyway Mrs....uhhhh....ummm....(desperately looking for the name on the receipt) Mrs Nunofurbusiness'.   Idiot marketing folks (with DEGREES!!) from big corporations back home seem to think the public will be pleased and impressed by someone spewing a memorized, scripted, slog of kiss-butt.  'Thank you for calling, it's a wonderful day at Hines Chevrolet of Rancho Cucamonga, my name is Maxine, how may I direct your call?'   'Parts please'.  Here, they may have the most redundant job from hell, but you'd never know it as their smiles are genuine and whatever they say is earnest in nature.  Even taxi drivers.  I say 'Gracias' when I depart and they typically thank me back by saying 'and to you also' (in Spanish).
  • ATMS here are still a bit behind the times.   There's no such thing as being able to make deposits via ATMs.
  • On our 'circle trip' earlier this month, I kept seeing a sign posted at bridges that said '48T'...over and over and over again.   At first, I thought it was a number assigned to the bridge for identification purposes.   But, when I kept seeing the same number repeated I didn't know what it could be.   I think I figured it out.  It's probably stating the weight limit for that bridge.   Problem is....it's posted right AT the bridge.   So, if you're driving a truck and whipping along and you're overweight....oooops....too late.   Kinda like the maximum height posted at overhead bridges.  By the time you're notified, the top of your load is already being sheared off.
  • Speed bumps.  OMG...Ecuador LOVES their speed bumps.  I'm not talking about in parking lots, I'm talking about on the highways.  Granted, they are there generally to slow you down as you approach a town, though the town, and just as you leave.  But, they aren't always marked.  Some highways are better posted than others, so you can't always rely on the fact that because it is well-marked on highway 25, that it will also be so on highway 77.   Some are blacktop (can't see at night), some are blacktop painted in stripes, some are mounds of dirt, some have signs warning you it's coming up in 100 meters, some have warning signs but there's no bumps, some have signs AT the bump (good when you're going 50 mph), and some are.....SURPRISE!!!  GOTCHA!!!  I've slammed into a few...not good for the front-end alignment.   Generally, I try to watch ahead to the vehicles in front of me.   If I see their hind-ends leap up, then I'm prepared.
  • Signage.  BWAAAHHAAAHAAA!!!  WHAT signs?   Ok, there are SOME, but they are sorely lacking in many areas.  That is....that's MY perspective when I compare it to where I'm from.  For instance, you can arrive into a large city that has a sign pointing that-a-way to the next city you're headed for, but that's it...that's the last sign you'll see....there's no more help after that point.   Though a different kind of situation, I was recently exploring outside of Cuenca.  I spotted a sign as part of the Cajas National Park system, which pointed down a road to a lake where you can hike, fish, etc and it was about a mile or two away.   I took the road.   It was impressive that someone 'paved' the road with hand-placed smooth river rock, about 6" - 8" in size, the entire distance.  Even though it looked charming, it was not at all charming to drive over.   Someone would be smart to open a business at the end of the road providing front-end repair, wheel balancing, and front-end alignment!!!   But, I wanted to see the lake.  After slowly rumbling along for quite awhile, I arrived.  IT WAS CLOSED!!!   Do you THINK they could've placed a sign at the beginning stating that and spared people from wasting their time (and their jumbled nerves) for nothing?  I ruhhh--rrruumm---rrrrrummmmmbled back to the highway.
Well, at least I took a couple of photos along the way, so here they are.  What a segue, huh?


Sing along won'tcha?   "Over the River and thru the Woods, to the Big Lake that's Closed!!!"

One of the many tributaries headed to be one of the 4 rivers that traverse through Cuenca.

The stonework was impressive, but not nice to drive over.

Along the way were a man and his young son with their fishing poles headed to catch some trout out of the river. 
Aunt Bee was probably back home bakin pies.


  1. Thanks for make me laugh with your observations. I'm going to pass this link to the Ministry of Transport and Public Works. If more of us complain about all of those wrong signs, they will finally have to improve their work.
    I'll be awaiting the next chapter (:

  2. Nothing any different than what you will find in Panama or CR

  3. Funny city hehehe. Would be interesting if you take a picture about the green traffic light and the stop signal FAIL!!!!, I was surprised this last time I went to Cuenca about how the people drive, but I enjoyed it because i didnt use the belt, go to the speeds you want, throw the car to other drivers, and there´s no risk, basically Cuenca its a small calm city.
    Think in UK, never ever it´s going to happen something bad to you in those little shits cars of toy. In Quito there´s now a really strict penalty for ALL, belt, if you carry children in the front, if motorcycles are more than 2 persons, if the riders do not wear a special (chaleco), all police of the world checking the speed!, etc, etc, uuuuuuuffffff. Come to live in Quito ;).
    I miss Cuenca!


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About Me

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Palma, Mallorca, Spain
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Spain, in the city of Palma on the island of Mallorca in the middle of the Mediterranean sea!! I moved from the USA to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America and lived there for 7 years before moving here to Spain in early 2018. To read about my adventures in Ecuador, check out my other blog "Ahhh Cuenca!!". I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live in Europe....across the pond.

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